Chopsticks and Soy Bean Paste

Most of the time the fact that Good Man was born and raised in Korea, and that I was born and raised in America, is unimportant. We’ve worked out a lot of cultural quirks and lived in the not-native country. Most of the time I’m only reminded of our differences when other people ask about them.

But then there are stories that remind me—quickly—that we are Korean and American.

Good Man and I were talking about childhood stories and he told me he stuck a chopstick in the light socket. My brother had stuck a fork in the socket. Korean, American.

Then he followed up with another story that reminded my of my brother. “I was trying to hold a bee in my hand, because you know, there are those big bees that don’t sting,” he said.

I nodded, “By brother used to call them the ‘big, fuzzy bees,’ and he’d pet them.”

“Right, and so I was trying to catch one in my hand!” I laughed, anticipating what was coming next. Good Man continued, “And I caught a bee, but it was the wrong kind, and I got stung.”

“What’d your mom say?”

“Well, she didn’t really say anything, but she put 됀장 on it.”

“Your mother put soy bean paste on the bee sting?” I certainly wasn’t anticipating that.

“Yeah, what do you use?”

“Baking soda and water paste.”

He shook his head, “No, that is weird.”